In protest of the long-ignored, damaged roads in Tangerang Regency, hundreds of residents from Balaraja and Kresek districts turned one of large potholes on Jl. Rasa Kresek Kilometer 33 in Sukamulya village into a pond.
They decorated it with a bamboo and plywood signed, marked with the words “Sumur Bupati” (regent’s well) and “Kolam Belut Boga Ismet” (Ismet’s eel pond), an alleged reference to Tangerang Regent Ismet Iskandar, and planted some banana trees on the other part of the road.
Some oil drums, logs, bamboo, tires and stones were also placed along the road, which caused a 1-kilometer-long traffic gridlock.
However, passing motorists did not seemed bothered by the congestion as they found the protest to be an exciting spectacle.
“It’s [the traffic jam caused by the protest] not a problem,” Ujang Sumir, a truck driver, told The Jakarta Post.
“We support the residents’ actions since we have suffered due to the damaged road for a long time.
There is no sign that the administration will repair it,” he grumbled.
He said he could understand why the residents had staged such a protest.
One of the protesting residents, Ishak, said he hoped their actions would pressure the Tangerang Regency to immediately repair the damaged road.
“If the administration still ignores our plight, we will threaten to block the road and bar any passing vehicles,” he added.
“We have been patient with the administration for long enough,” said Suhendri, another resident of Sukamulya village.
“Now we have to protest and force them to pay attention to the problem by blocking the road.”
Suhendri said the residents were angry the administration had left the road unpaved for so long so that it had become full of potholes.
Passing trucks and buses also further worsened the road, creating dust clouds that were potentially hazardous to health.
“Many of us, especially the children, have suffered from respiratory problems,” he claimed.
An official with Balaraja district, Retno Juarno, admitted the damaged roads had caused traffic accidents.
“There have been too many victims. Therefore, the damaged road must be repaired as soon as possible to avoid claiming more victims.”
Separately, another official with the district who heads development program Dadang, said the residents’ protest was misplaced as the road was under the jurisdiction of the Banten provincial administration.
“Banten Province is the one responsible for the road repair, not the Tangerang regental administration.”
He added the district administration had sent letters to the Banten Province reporting the damaged road.
“We’ve sent letters three times, but there has been no response yet.”